The recently opened sportsbook and sports bar at Hartford, Conn.’s XL Center is struggling to turn a profit. The Sports Bar & Fanatics Sportsbook, which debuted in September, is reportedly facing potential losses of up to $750,000 by July 1, according to reports from local media outlets.
After just three months in operation, the new establishment had already incurred a loss of more than $280,000 as of December, as reported by the Hartford Business Journal.
Officials attribute the slow start to the sportsbook and bar’s status as a new operation, with many patrons only visiting the venue when attending concerts or sporting events. The University of Connecticut basketball and hockey teams also occasionally play at the XL Center, drawing crowds to the venue. Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, noted that the UConn men’s basketball games in particular tend to attract large crowds, making it difficult to access the sportsbook on those nights.
Despite the potential draw of the UConn teams, many sports bettors in Connecticut are choosing to wager at other locations in the state, such as the tribal casinos, which offer popular sports betting options from companies like FanDuel and DraftKings.
The Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s switch to Fanatics as its athletic wager vendor in December also created a slowdown in business as the transition took place. However, the lottery commission remains optimistic that increased brand recognition and a growing customer base will help bolster sales in the long run.
Officials are banking on planned improvements at the XL Center to boost attendance. The venue is set to undergo a significant renovation projected to cost up to $100 million, which will include the addition of luxury club seating and more general admission seats.
It’s worth noting that the XL Center has not been home to any professional sports franchises since the NHL’s Whalers left in 1997. Additionally, UConn has yet to move forward with plans to build an on-campus football stadium for its struggling football team, with home games currently being played at the off-campus Rentschler Field in East Hartford.